In My Backyard - Issue #9 - Roly Poly

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

 As a young child I would typically inspect plant soil and any fresh dug dirt for those "lovable", round creatures I called roly polies. I had a fascination with them, as well as ladybugs, and pretty much any other creature I could dig up and/or handle. When I found some I would collect as many as I could and show my collection to Mum or Dad, or anybody nearest. Then I would return them to their home and study them some more. One time I tried to keep a few as pets. I used my favorite music box as a cage and added little scraps of greenery. I recently found out that keeping them as pets is something most children try, but what I didn't know is their ability to survive as pets is greater than many other wild animal/creatures. I ended up returning mine to its natural habitat since I was afraid they wouldn't survive, but I've read they keep well as pets as long as their habitat is moist and relatively dark. Another tidbit, owners of tarantulas keep them as cage cleaners since they do a good job of cleaning up that common icky stuff that tends to collect in an animals habitat. Neato, huh?

The roly poly, or as its more commonly known, the pill bug, has a latin name of Armadillidiidae. Anything come to mind? The armadillo and pill bug, along with a couple of others, have the uncanny ability to roll themselves in a protective ball, known as conglobation. Imagine, a mammal and a small insect having something so unique in common. What's more, despite its many similarities to the other members of the suborder Oniscidea (woodlouse), the ability to congloberate is exclusive to the pill bug (Armadillidiidae). Others of that order look very similar, but upon closer inspection, one could easily see the difference. For instance, the length of other woodlice tails cause them to look more like a trilobite, while the pill bug is shorter.

Woodlice in general are crustaceans and have to moult in order to grow. The difference between the moulting of your average crustacean and a woodlouse is the process it takes. While common crustaceans moult in a single process, the woodlouse first looses the skin of it back half and then after a few days, looses the skin of its front half. Why this is so, I have no idea. One of those forever unknowns? Something to consider. Off hand, I wonder if you could find their skins like you can a snakes. Maybe with a microscope.

Marsupium is the latin word for pouch, as in marsupials, kangaroo and wallaby that we all know give birth to their young in a pouch. Similarly, woodlouse females have a marsupium, or brood pouch, that she carries her young in until they hatch. Members of at least 4 other crustaceans have marsupiums.

Now just because woodlice are crustaceans, I wouldn't recommend broiling them to eat with your Cesar salad. On the contrary, woodlice are said to taste very unpleasant, but how they ever found this out, I wouldn't know. Serves the person right who goes around eating anything they find to see if it tastes good. No, I'll stick to the tried and true method.

The difference between the two. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
For those of you who never cared for playing with pill bugs, don't overlook them completely. Just like earthworms, pill bugs are beneficial to gardens, even if you might find an occasional few that take delight in your strawberry plant. One thing many people today will appreciate is the fact that they don't carry disease. Caution is always recommended when playing with animals of any sort, and you should always wash your hands before eating after playing with them. Just so, our theory is you're more likely to find disease touching something in the store than you would the cow on the other side of the fence. But don't quote me, these are my personal opinions alone.

Lastly, woodlice are preyed upon by their own special enemy and wouldn't you know it, its called the woodlouse spider. Evidently they can get past that horrible taste.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
In light of the many creatures God created, its sometimes a good idea to stop and take a deeper look at one in particular and then try and appreciate just how amazing creation is.

This concludes the ninth issue of In My Backyard, a monthly series posted every last friday of the month. I hope you enjoyed what you read! Make sure and leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

Crochet Inspiration in the Movies

This Saturday my little sister and I had a cold and were chilling out while eating breakfast. She picked the movie. And no, for once it was not Cinderella. She wanted The Glass Bottom Boat. Funny. It's a good movie, very hilarious. Besides, I'm a big fan of Doris Day.

While watching it I noticed this blanket:

The color scheme is beautiful. I love the blend of yellows, oranges, and reds.
I'm considering remaking it.

The picture to the right shows a better example of the stitch pattern. Something like a shell and cluster. I've actually worked this before on a baby blanket some years ago. This will certainly be bigger. Plus, I'll have to guess at the amount of yarn. But that isn't daunting. It's actually exciting.

It'll be a while yet before I can try it though. Right now I'm trying to get used to creating a new pattern each week for Crochet Spot. Which, by the way, you can find my very first pattern, Spring Flower Earrings. Next week you'll find another pattern, this one for Easter.

But, as happy as I am to have landed the job, I'll get back to my first order of business.

I'm trying to decide what brand of yarn would be best. Unfortunately, I have very few at my fingertips, at least in the stores. Price is also something to consider. It'll take a lot of yarn so I could easily have a big bill. Any suggestions?

Another movie that has me thinking is The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934 version). Have you seen it? It's one of our favorites. The book is the best; I've read it twice now and I think its about time I read it again. There's just something about a foppish Englishman masquerading as a hero unbeknownst to his public. Marguerite, his wife, is a wonderful character as well.

But, my real reason for bringing it up is this, I've found another pattern I want to make.  

Lady Marguerite's gloves:

 The quality of those early films leave a little to be desired but I suspect you get the idea at least.

They're a delicate, fingerless glove with soft ribbing on the back. It would definitely be a job for lace. Compared to Suzanne's gloves, which are full length opera gloves, these are so much more gentle and pretty. I don't like bulky-looking formal gloves, not that all of them are, but these definitely complement the outfit. Don't you agree?

That's all for now. I'm always on the lookout for crochet inspiration. What inspires you? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

A Crochet Pattern for St. Patrick's Day and the Latest

I used to look at creating your own crochet patterns with some trepidation, thinking it was something only the experts could do. I mean, how would I know how to give it the right number and kind of stitches to give it the right shape? It seemed so complicated. But. I like to create and experiment. And. I took it a step at a time.

Venturing into the world of amigurumi has definitely opened my mind to more possibilities like I never would have imagined. I started with the idea of making small crocheted mushrooms, and if you've read my blog you'll know how that turned out.

Click here to see my Adorable Mushroom and here for my 'Large' Adorable Mushroom.

There are other things I have made in the past from my own patterns, like a clothes-pin bag, dishcloths, and usable things like that for around the house purposes. I got mixed results from each. The clothes-pin bag was for my Mum since she could no longer find one at the store, and the dishcloths were an effort to find one absorbent enough for our kitchen needs. I was dissatisfied with the cotton yarn I used for the dishcloth, not the pattern, and I haven't been able to find an acceptable cotton yarn yet that I liked for hardier projects.

But since being accepted at Crochet Spot, I've been letting my mind rove over all the crocheting possibilities, and let me tell you, I've got tons! But that doesn't mean they'll all turn out. :) We'll just have to see about it.

Here's one I made in a jiffy with some already learned techniques. Its great for the upcoming holiday. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Amy's Crocheted Shamrock

-Any worsted weight yarn
I used Loops & Threads Impeccable in Kelly Green
-Size 5.5mm hook
-Tapestry needle

Gauge is not important for this project.

Finished size
From left petal to right petal: 6 ¼ inches
From top to bottom of stem: 6 ¼ inches

Little Petals (make 3)
Row 1: Ch 2, 2 sc in first ch.
Row 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st. (4 sts)
Row 3: Ch 1. sc across.
Row 4: Ch 1, 2 sc in first and last st, 1 sc in middle sts. (6 sts)
Row 5-6: Ch 1, sc across.
Row 7: Repeat Row 4. (8 sts)
Row 8: Ch 1, sc in first st, (dc, tr) in next st, dc, sl st in next 2 sts, dc, (tr, dc) in same st, sc in last st.
Edging: Sc around, 3 sc in bottom ch, sl st in first sc of Row 8. (17 sts, not including sts from Row 8)

Sew ends of 3 petals together.

Attach yarn to bottom of petal, ch 13, sc in 2nd ch from hook and following chs, sl st in other opposite petal from the one you chained from. Fasten off, weave in ends.

Note: I always crochet into the bottom loops of a chain, but any way will work.

If you have any questions or are confused about some element of the pattern, or if you just want to say hi, leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to help.

When spring comes a little closer I'll share my recent spring flower pattern I made after hearing about Overlay Crochet. I was inspired by this Norwegian blog, which sadly I can't understand a word of. But the pictures are very helpful. Crochet Spot also has a post on the subject if you're interested.

In the meantime, I finished the Jelly Bean scarf from Twinkie Chan's pattern. Being the color lover that I am, I couldn't resist trying this pattern with as many bright hues as I could find. Jelly Beans are usually brightly colored, right? Here's my choice of colors.

Choosing colors like this means I most likely won't wear it that often, but then again, I have quite a few scarves at the moment. But my sisters might wear it. Either way, it was fun to make.

Thanks for reading. I'll see next time here at Over the Horizon!

Breaking News!

Well, here is my news. I've been given the chance to be part of the Crochet Spot team as one of the crochet professionals! Now you can find me there once a week (at least for now) with a new pattern. I have so many ideas. I hope I can pull them off. But, you never know until you try.

For a while now I have been looking for a means of making some money, at least to fund my yarn obsession. I've tried to get an Etsy shop going, and I'm still going to; I'm just getting my ducks in a row. I'm hoping, with a little extra money, I'll be able to get bigger with my projects and branch out a little. I have a number of sweater patterns I want to try but haven't wanted Mum to have to buy the yarn for me. She says its no problem, but I'd feel better if I could pay for my hobbies. Unfortunately, my writing hasn't made it big yet. But be patient, it will. ;)

With St. Patrick's Day and Easter coming up I've been mulling over some seasonal patterns but am not sure just yet what I will do. Any suggestions? As I said in my last post, I am making Twinkie Chan's Jelly Bean Scarf, but whilst making the cute and colorful jelly beans I had an inspiration. What about making a jelly bean blanket. Crochet simple white or cream motifs and sew the jelly beans to the tops in a topsy turvy style! Kids would definitely love this. I might get around to it someday. Never know.

Thanks for reading! I just wanted to shout out my good news. Until next time...

My Autumn Squares Afghan

The Large Adorable Mushroom - Crochet Pattern

Do you like mushrooms as much as I do? No, I doubt anyone likes them as much as me. But do you like them at least a little bit like I do? I think everyone should. But that's one persons opinion. This post is dedicated to my love for the cute,  plump, fungal organisms. Are you surprised?

This, my newest amigurumi, is called the 'Large' Adorable Mushroom. I wanted it to look just as plump and cute as the first one, the Adorable Mushroom, but seeing how this one is bigger, naturally, I expected it to be at least a little more challenging than the first. And it was, by a little. I did have to rip some, but not much.

Here's the pattern. As always, be sure to tell me what you think. I love feedback.

(Large) Adorable Mushroom

-- Worsted Weight Yarn, approximately 20 yards of color A and B, (I used Red Heart Spring Green for color A, and Red Heart White for color B)
-- Crochet Hook J (6mm)
-- Polyester filling
-- Dry Northern Beans, for weight (or any that will not slip through the stitches)
-- Yarn needle

Measures 4 ½ inches tall.

Round 1: with color A, make an adjustable ring, ch 1, 6 sc ring, sl st in first sc: 6 sc
Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 3: ch 1, *2 sc in first sc, sc in next sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 18 sc
Round 4: ch 1, sc in each sc around: 18 sc
Round 5: ch 1, *2 sc in first sc, sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 24 sc
Round 6: ch 1, *2 sc in first sc, sc in next 3 sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 30 sc
Round 7: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 30 sc
Round 8: ch 1, *2 sc in first sc, sc in next 4 sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 36 sc
Round 9: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 36 sc
Round 10: ch 1, * sc2tog, sc in next sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 24 sc
Round 11-13: ch 1, sc2tog around: 3 sc 
Stuff during the last rows.
Finish off, leaving a long tail. Use strand to go up through the center of the cap, catching a st in the top of the cap and coming back out the bottom, twice on opposite sides of cap. Pull gently to lift bottom, and straighten top back out. Weave in ends.

Round 1: with color B, make an adjustable ring, ch 1, 8 sc in ring, sl st in first sc: 8 sc
Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 16 sc
Round 3: ch 1, sc in blo (back loops only) in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 16 sc
Round 4: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 16 sc
Round 5: ch 1, sc2tog, sc in next 6 sc, sc2tog, sc in remaining sc, sl st in first sc: 14 sc
Round 6: ch 1, sc2tog, sc in next 5 sc, sc2tog, sc in remaining sc, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 7: ch 1, sc2tog, sc in next 4 sc, sc2tog, sc in remaining sc, sl st in first sc: 10 sc
Round 8-11: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 10 sc

Finish off, leaving a long tail. Stuff first with a small handful of beans then stuff the rest of the way with polyester fluff. Sew to cap. Weave in ends.

Aim for a slight cock-eyed look to give it attitude.

Copyrighted by Amy Lynn Yarbrough, March 6, 2013

I took my "Adorable Mushrooms" outside to get some good photos and look what I had to put up with. Mr. Darcy likes to be the center of attention, like all cats. Its a cat thing. (It looks like he's sitting on the mushroom!)

 This is the other helper, not so obnoxious. At least at the moment. Her name is Lizzie and at this moment she had just scared away a flock of birds and sat down to have a satisfactory scoff.

 Mr. Darcy at his best. (Notice how I have strayed from my original subject).

 Cooner posed just for this picture because I told her to. She knows how to look good.

Gracie, the ever meek and mild pit bull/mix she is, also had to get in on the fun.

But, back to the subject at hand. At the moment I am making the Jelly Bean scarf by Twinkie Chan (you can find it at by clicking here). I'm using a mixture of vibrant "Jelly Bean colors" in worsted weight and am halfway through.

Since I've been really into the amigurumi mood of late I'm thinking of doing Stephanie's Year of the Snake or Spring Bunny on They are absolutely cute! But I also have a list of baby things I'm dying to make. Alas!

Before I leave, I want to tell you that I have some hopefully exciting news, but I'll have to tell you next time as this post already has enough subjects. Until then...
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to tell me what you think in the comments below.

Culinary Chronicles - Asian (Korean) Cuisine #2: Pickled Korean Radish

When I discovered I spent the next few days exploring and learning. I was totally inspired and ready to embark on a new 'cooking' journey. I started simple and made something we already had the ingredients for, Korean Egg Rolls. My family loved them and now my Mum has got on the 'bandwagon' as well. It definitely helps our inspiration having a fairly new International Farmers Market in town where we've been able to find so many new and foreign foods, especially produce.

I've tried a number Chloe's recipes (the author/cook of, and have been encouraged to try some of my own Asian inspired experiments. See here for an example. (Frankly, my family isn't very comfortable when I refer to my cooking in the kitchen as experiments, I don't know why.)

One of the recipes she has is called Korean radish wrap, or Mussamali. It looked so good and fresh, I just had to try it. Not knowing where to find the already pickled radish I decided to make some myself. I looked for Korean Radish at the Int. Farmers Market, and surprisingly for me, found it right off. I realized afterward that I didn't have the necessary cutting tools to achieve the proper thinness, but since I had them I wasn't going to give up. I hand-sliced them one day and followed Chloe's recipe (found at the bottom of the recipe).

Here are my substitutions:

  • Instead of white vinegar I used Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Completely omitted the sugar (I didn't know what kind to used since we don't use white sugar, besides we avoid using sugar if we can help it)

I left it in the fridge for a week according to the recipe, and today I pulled it out. I tend to be on the negative side (bad, I know) so I didn't hold much hope. But fortunately everyone agreed that they tasted pretty good. But, unfortunately, my slices were still too thick, so I don't think I'll be able to wrap them. This time I might have to leave them open-faced. In the meantime, I am on the lookout for a good and thin slicer. Any suggestions?

Only after doing this did I consider looking for already pickled radish at the Int. Farmer's Market. And surprisingly, I found it. (Love the Int. Farmer's Market!) I was, on the other hand, disappointed to find it had MSG in it. Aside from the fact that its not the healthiest, it gives certain people headaches in our home. Maybe, if I wanted to use it instead of making my own, I'll be able to find another brand that doesn't have MSG in it.

Since our Sunday lunches are usually light, I'm thinking this would be great, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time to prepare it after church. Still working on that.

Thanks for reading. I hope the ups and downs of my experiments help you with yours.

And a great big thanks to Chloe Lim, the Korean Food Addict, for all her work in making this available to people like me who have no idea about how to make this stuff. Totally grateful!